Wigan children's letter plea to spare pony from WWI on show

P L and Freda Hewlett with their pony, Betty
Image caption The children's family had supplied two horses to the army before they wrote the letter

A letter from a pair of children asking Lord Kitchener to not take their horse for service in World War I has gone on display.

Wigan's P L and Freda Hewlett wrote to the Secretary of State for War in August 1914, to ask him to spare their pony, Betty, because she was pregnant.

He replied, stating "no horses under 15 hands shall be requisitioned belonging to the British family Hewlett".

The letters are part of Imperial War Museum North's Once Upon A Wartime.

The exhibition looks at the reality of wartime scenarios proposed in children's fiction, including the real history behind Michael Morpurgo's War Horse.

Image caption The War Office replied, saying Betty would not be requisitioned

Hundreds of thousands of horses were used by forces fighting in World War I, with many being requisitioned from private owners.

The Hewlett children, who lived in Haigh, wrote that "two others and three of our own family" were already serving in the British Army and Navy.

"It would break our hearts to let her go," they wrote.

"Mother and all will do anything for you but do do please let us keep old Betty."

The pair sign the letter as "your troubled little Britishers".

Unexpectedly, the children received a reply from the War Office in Whitehall.

It said that "Lord Kitchener has directed that no horses under 15 hands shall be requisitioned belonging to the British family P L and Freda Hewlett".

The letters and the exhibition are at the Imperial War Museum North until 2 September.

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